Entries in Hip-Hop (2)

Wednesday
Feb012012

R.I.P. Don Cornelius, and Remember the 'Soul Train'

 

REVIEWING THE NEWS: A complicated legend, Soul Train creator and black-music pioneer Don Cornelius, passes away.

By Kenny Herzog

Don Cornelius: 1936-2012

 

Much like the recently deceased King of Pop, Michael Jackson, and late Godfather of Soul, James Brown, Soul Train conductor Don Cornelius' final years were marred by legal entanglements and poor health. But just as when word spread of M.J. and J.B.'s passing, news that Cornelius, 75, was found dead this morning of an apparent suicide still took your breath away.

We have a tendency to define people by their lowest point, particularly when we initially put them on a pedestal. But we mostly admire and ultimately mourn figures like Cornelius because of how something they created at a different time in their lives put us in a special place inside our imagination. And in the case of Soul Train, it was the hippest, coolest place to be on a Saturday morning, but also (and by design), a demonstration of peaceful activism, enormous catalyst for cultural integration, an heir to Motown as a platform for black artists and blueprint for future groundbreaking musical television like Yo! MTV Raps. In short, Soul Train was the shit.

 

IN OTHER WORDS: Despite Don Cornelius' troubled end, he was still there at the beginning.

THE SOUL TRAIN MAKING NO STOPS RATING: It's Gonna Be a Stone-Gas, Honey/10

 

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Wednesday
Nov092011

Dwight "Heavy D" Myers: 1967-2011

REVIEWING THE NEWS: An inspiring and pioneering MC passes away far too young.

By Kenny Herzog

The late Heavy D's best and signature single, hopefully to be rediscovered.

 

A year ago at this time, I was guest-DJing at a bar in Brooklyn. Their sound system was on the fritz. For two hours, I continually dropped the needle over Heavy D's "Now That We Found Love" while the venue's manager experimented with their speakers and monitors. By the time we'd given up and agreed on a rain check, I'd becomore intimate with every beat, bar and snare of that song than just about any composition I'd ever hummed, let alone mixed on a turntable.

"Now That We Found Love" has it all: Producer Teddy Riley's (Blackstreet, Guy et al) house-y New Jack Swing, Guy vocalist Aaron Hall's gospel hook and, of course, the self-proclaimed overweight lover's tenorous rap-scat. He was a big man who could dance, rhyme and spread messages of sensuality and spirtutality whose content and potent musicality were accessible for any audience.

As it happens, I was recently asked to guest-DJ at a bar in Brooklyn this coming Friday, for the first time in nearly a year. Assuming all equipment's operational, the crowd won't need to hear Heavy D on endless loop a la my ill-fated evening in 2010. But they will hear "Now That We Found Love" at least twice, so that maybe they'll go home and check out 1989's "Girlz, They Love Me," "1993's "Who's the Man?" or 1994's "Nuttin' But Love," among other classics he released over a decade stretch. And because it, and he, were a class act.

Dwight "Heavy D" Myers was 44.

 

IN OTHER WORDS: I'm not very spiritual myself, but hopefully Heavy D has found love after death. 

HEAVY D, REST IN PEACE RATING: 10/10

 

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